Welcome to Senators’ Weekly, where you can catch up on the past week of the Ottawa Senators throughout the 2018-19 season. From trending topics to surging prospects to news and notes, this is your weekly roundup on all things Sens.
The Senators returned from a nine-day absence to play back-to-back games versus the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. The Senators lost to the Penguins 5-3 in their first game back and Colin White’s first game back from a shoulder injury. They dropped the second game as well, getting shut out 2-0 to the Red Wings. Here are the notable headlines and stories from the past week.
Muzzin Trade Sets Bar for Senators & Ceci
The Toronto Maple Leafs may be impacting the Senators’ decisions ahead of the trade deadline. While Senators fans would normally hate the thought of that, they may change their tune when it results in the departure of longtime disappointment Cody Ceci. The Maple Leafs acquired defender Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for their first-round pick in 2019, Carl Grundstrom and the rights to Sean Durzi. It seems that the price for defenders has been set.
Now, the two defenders don’t completely line up. Muzzin has nearly double the points of Ceci over their careers with only 84 more NHL games. He also has a career plus/minus of plus-24 where Ceci has a minus-55. Even this season, Muzzin has four goals and 21 points to Ceci’s five goals and 15 points with over a minute less of ice-time per game. But, Ceci is 25, four years younger than Muzzin, and is a right-hand defenseman, which is harder to come by for organizations.
Muzzin has also been playing on a team that has won two Stanley Cups, and Ceci has definitely not. The return may be there for Ceci, and if a team makes an offer similar to the one the Kings got back from the Maple Leafs, you can be sure that general manager Pierre Dorion will pull the trigger. TSN’s Darren Dreger spoke to the impact of the Muzzin trade on the decision of Ceci’s future in Ottawa.
“Now, the Ottawa Senators are still in a rebuild mood, so the return is absolutely is attractive. There’s been much speculation around Cody Ceci, whether he’s in play or whether he’s not in play. For that return, 100 percent Cody Ceci is in play. Why wouldn’t Ottawa look for a first-round pick and a couple of prospects or a first-round pick and a NHL roster player for a 25-year-old right shot D-man.”
Duchene Leaving Senators?
Following Ceci out the Canadian Tire Centre door may be centreman Matt Duchene. The trade deadline is getting closer and closer, and Duchene has yet to sign a contract. As information leaks out, it seems less likely that the 28-year-old will be traded away from the Senators.
Dreger reported on TSN 1050 that team owner Eugene Melnyk has set a cap for which the team can re-sign Duchene, at $8 million per season. It’s been known for months now that in order to hold on to both Duchene and Mark Stone the club would need to overpay them in order to entice them to stay on a losing team. By setting the $8 million cap, Melnyk is sealing Duchene’s fate.
The scenario seems very similar to what happened with Erik Karlsson this past offseason. The Senators offered their captain a deal that would see him get paid $10 million per season for eight years. While that may seem like it was a fair offer, Karlsson’s counterpart Drew Doughty had just been re-signed by the Kings to an eight-year, $88 million extension. That $1 million less per season is a very big difference.
Related: Senators 2019 Trade Deadline Preview
Duchene is currently having a great season, with 21 goals and 48 points in 43 games. His career high in goals is 30 (2015-16) and points is 70 (2013-14), so he may set a personal best in goals this season. As a top-line centre, Duchene should be able to bring in a first-round pick, along with some other picks and prospects, similar to what the Senators gave up to bring him to Ottawa just 15 months ago.
Senators May Look to Re-Sign Dzingel
While Ryan Dzingel was looking like a solid candidate to get traded, it seems that the Senators would like to try and keep him if they can. Previous reports from The Fourth Period noted that numerous teams may be interested in the winger, including the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche.
Dzingel would be a great addition for a team lack some scoring depth, but could also provide the veteran experience a rebuilding team needs, if he stays in Ottawa. Dreger thinks that, for now, the Senators are planning to try and keep the 26-year-old.
“He’s going to be more affordable,” Dreger said, “You need good players to transition from rebuild into a playoff-contending team, and why trade a Ryan Dzingel when you’re going to try and get that player back. Unless – unless – it just becomes a cost issue and whatever Ryan Dzingel is expecting to avoid free agency is cost prohibitive. But based on his level of production this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ottawa takes a hard run at keeping him.”
The Senators’ Week Ahead
The Senators are in the middle of a very strange scheduling period. After the nine-day break around the NHL All-Star Game, they had their back-to-back games versus the Penguins and Red Wings. Now, the team has another three days off before another back-to-back against the Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks. To round off the week, the club will play a matinee against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
Expect more news to trickle out on the status of the numerous pending free agents and players on the trade block, as well, with the trade deadline fast approaching.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.